I am so excited to have Lena Gregory here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Character Guest Post and Giveaway.
Thanks Lena and Great Escape Tours for allowing me to join your Occult and Battery Blog Tour!
Please take it away, Lena!
A Reading With Cass Donovan
I’m Cass Donovan, owner of Mystical Musings, a small psychic shop on Bay Island. Thank you for dropping by today. You’re just in time, too. I’m about to start a group reading at Mystical Musings, and I figured it would be fun to give you a peek at a group reading from my point of view. So, come on in, have a seat at one of the many tables scattered throughout the shop, and we’ll get started.
Usually, Stephanie, one of my best friends, introduces me. She’ll talk a little about what’s about to happen. She’ll tell my clients I will walk through the room and seek out those whose dearly departed loved ones are trying to contact them.
I only have a vague idea of what she says, because we worked it out ahead of time. While she’s speaking, I study my guests. Everyone has small tells that alert you to their thoughts and feelings. If you are good at reading those tells, which I am, thanks to years of psychiatric training and great gut instincts, you can infer a lot about a person.
But I don’t do readings to con people, I do it to help them. Unfortunately, I had to leave my psychiatric practice, and I will never go back to New York City. I enjoy the peace of living on Bay Island too much to ever go back to the hustle and bustle of city life, or the bad memories that plague me there. So I use my training to help people in another way.
To start, I can assume most of the people attending a reading expect me to contact the dead. Of course, there are skeptics, but that’s to be expected, and they’re easy enough to pick out that I can avoid them with no problem.
Right now, I am looking at a woman I can tell needs my help. She is twisting her wedding ring around and around her finger, her lower lip caught between her teeth. Just a nervous habit, or something more? I’ll have to figure it out. She has a sad look about her. Not the raw pain of fresh grief, but the kind of sadness that comes with having lost someone who was important to her and whose loss still affects her, just not recently.
The woman sitting next to her, much younger, her daughter, maybe, pats her hands.
I approach slowly, giving her time to notice I’ve focused on her. If she seems unwilling to participate, I’ll back off right away. She seems okay, though. She sits up straighter, so I figure she’s ready to chat.
The man sitting at the next table is a regular, and he knows my routine, so he stands and offers me his chair.
I accept, thank him, and pull it closer to the woman, creating a more intimate setting for our talk. I start off kind of general, since I’m not sure yet what’s wrong. “You seem worried about something.”
She nods and a tear tips over her lashes. “I am.” A strong sense of loss surrounds her.
“You’ve lost something important.”
Her eyes widen, and she nods again. “Yes, I have.”
That one wasn’t so hard to figure out, but now I have to figure out what she lost and where she lost it. “When was the last time you saw it?”
She frowns and shakes her head. “I can’t remember. My husband left it in his drawer. It was so important to him.”
“Well, why don’t we see if he can help us guide you to it?”
She pulls herself together. “Oh, that would be great.”
Now I have a lot more information than I did at the start. I know her husband is the one who’s gone, which I suspected from the way she was twisting her ring. I know she lost something, which is usually an easy problem to solve. Most people, given the right prodding, can remember where they last saw something and be led back to it. This is actually a common request.
Now I will focus on finding what she lost, but I won’t go into how just yet. After all, I don’t want to divulge all my secrets, but be sure to pick up a copy of Death at First Sight or Occult and Battery if you want an even more detailed glimpse into what I do.
“Stop the car!”
Bee Maxwell slammed on the brakes, skidding to a stop on the sand-covered shoulder. Without loosening his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, he turned a glare on Cass. “Are you crazy? What’s the matter?”
Cass released her hold on the dashboard and shot him a grin. “We’re here.”
A hand the size of a baseball mitt fluttered to Bee’s chest, with all the drama of a true diva. “You nearly gave me a heart attack because we’ve arrived at our secret destination?” Gritting his teeth, he shifted gently into park. No way would he jam the shifter into gear, even though she could tell he badly wanted to. The black Trans Am was his baby, always to be treated tenderly. Cass, on the other hand, was a different story. Bee looked about ready to throttle her. “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just tell me where we were going?”
Stephanie Lawrence poked her head between the seats to stare at Cass. “Not that I want to agree with Bee, but really, Cass, you could have just told him where to go. Then maybe this maniac wouldn’t have nearly put us through the windshield.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t think he’d agree to take me if I told him where we were going.”
Bee waved a hand in dismissal and glanced out the window, as if realizing for the first time where they were.
The old, supposedly haunted Madison Estate perched in the center of the highest ground on the island, amid dried-up beach grass, trees long since devoid of leaves, and garbage from whatever kids were brave — or stupid — enough to ignore their parents’ warnings. Thick, grey clouds gathered overhead, lending credence to the haunted stories Cass had heard since childhood.
A dainty shiver ran through Bee’s bulky frame. “Well, if your destination has anything to do with that house, you can just count me out.”
“But it’s perfect.” She opened the door and shot him a quick grin over her shoulder.
“Hey. Where are you going?”
Ignoring Bee’s protests, Cass climbed from the car. She closed the door behind her, effectively cutting off any further arguments. Bee happened to be deathly afraid of ghosts. Not that he believed in them.
Cass glanced up at the huge house. She’d never been inside, but from the number of wings and windows, she guessed it had a lot of rooms. Her gaze caught on the huge stone chimney running up between two quarter round windows, giving the impression of a face staring back at her. A flicker of movement grabbed her attention as a curtain rippled in the rounded cupola that sat slightly off-center on the roof.
Her heart stuttered, and she tore her gaze from the house and jogged back to the porch, where Bee and Stephanie stood arguing.
Ignoring them, she headed for the front door.
“What are you doing now?” The fear in Bee’s voice made her pause, but only for a moment.
She’d been planning this for over a month and had already gotten permission and cooperation from the owners. Her idea might be nuts, but she was pretty sure it would be a big hit. If she could convince her two best friends to help her out. She forced a smile, waggled her eyebrows, and held the front door key up between them. A puff of condensation enveloped the shiny, new key each time she exhaled.
“Are you crazy?” Bee’s voice only hit that high note when he was completely shocked or extremely upset. In this case, it was probably a little of both.
“Look, Bee. I have to find a way to generate income during the winter.”
He offered a quick look of sympathy. Before his designer dress shop, Dreamweaver Designs, had gotten so big, he used to have the same problem. Now that his designs were becoming more popular, and big names in the fashion industry had started attending his annual fashion shows, he had a steady stream of orders pretty much year-round.
Good, maybe he’d help her.
“You know how we do the group readings in the shop?”
He eyed her suspiciously. “Yeah.”
Although Bee didn’t believe in psychic powers or talking to the dead, he stayed as far away from anything to do with it as possible, just in case. Cass had cajoled him into helping with the group readings since there were no dead people involved. She’d also convinced him it was all done very scientifically.
She shrugged, hoping to appear casual. “Well, I want to do a group reading.”
He stuffed his hands into his coat pockets and rocked back and forth. The thought of him falling through the old boards of the rotting porch ran fleetingly through her mind. “In addition to the once-a-month readings you usually do?”
“Sort of?” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and peered at him from beneath her lashes.
It only took a moment for him to figure it out. “No. Oh, no. Not happening, sugar.”
“Not on your life, sweetie. There is no way I’m going into that house while you.” He shook his head and waved his hand wildly. “Do whatever it is you do.”
“It’s just a reading, Bee. I’ll do it the same way I do in the shop.” Knowing she was perilously close to whining, she rushed on. “I need your help. You have a background in theater, plus you put on the best fashion shows.” No need to remind him how much Cass had helped with those shows. All right, now I’m getting catty. She sucked in a deep breath of the frigid air, freezing her lungs. “How about if you just help with the setup? You don’t have to stay for the reading.”
“I don’t know.” He glanced toward the front door, shaking his head. “We’ll see. Okay?”
He held up a hand to stop her. “Be happy with it, honey, it’s the best you’re going to get.”
“I’m telling you, it’ll work. A group reading at a haunted house? Are you kidding me? People will line up for that.” Cass pushed the mansion’s front door open and held it for Stephanie, who followed her into the foyer.
Occult and Battery (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
2nd in Series
Berkley (April 4, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01J2STXD0
A murder mystery weekend becomes a little too real in the latest Bay Island Psychic Mystery from the author of Death at First Sight —
Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder.
The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.
But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée — Cass’s ex-best friend. Then, after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.
About The Author Lena lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.
When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.
Amazon B and N Penguin/ Random House Kobo Books-a-Million Target
Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks: